‘You Could Have Been…’ is a children’s picture book for bereaved parents to read to their child who died, or didn’t survive a pregnancy. It’s filled with a parent’s wonder of who their child could have been if they’d had the chance to grow up. The book is written to the child, so a parent can talk to them about their lost hopes and dreams, but most importantly, their love.
“You could have been an astronaut, up among the stars
And you would have been a pioneer – the first to go to Mars”…
…“You could have lived much longer, but this was not to be
Not among the human world – instead, you’re flying free”…
The watercolour illustrations are by artist, Zheng Qu, and beautifully depict the essence of our very special children who are no longer with us.
The inspiration behind ‘You Could Have Been’
In the beginning, it was such a surreal experience visiting my newborn baby at the cemetery. In the movies, you see people having poignant conversations with their loved one’s headstone. In reality, it wasn’t like that. I would sit there, crying in pain and disbelief. I wanted to talk to my son but I didn’t know-how. So I bought a children’s picture book and read it to him instead. I found this softened the experience, and it also gave me such pleasure to be able to do a ‘normal’ mum activity with my son.
Over time I bought many books and built up a collection of special titles. But in all my book shopping, I was unable to find one that was written specifically to a child like mine. I found books for children about grief and loss (even baby loss). I found books for the living siblings of a child who had died. But no books written to/for children that live only in their parents’ hearts.
You Could Have Been boy stencilSo I decided to write ‘You Could Have Been’ to my little boy, and to all the babies and children whose lives end far too soon. I have always loved Morrie Schwartz’s quote, “Death ends a life, not a relationship”. It is my hope that this book is a special way for bereaved parents, including those who suffer early pregnancy loss, to continue a relationship with their child that they are unable to hold in their arms.